My ex-pat experience in Australia
Emigrating to Australia
I am originally from the UK and 10 years ago or so I decided to go traveling and see the world. I traveled through many countries and when I finally got back to the UK after a year away I couldn’t settle. I made the huge decision to move to Australia. Could I have found anywhere further away?
My partner had an opportunity to work in Sydney, Australia for a few years so we packed up all our bits and pieces and flew off into the blue! Did we think long and hard about it and weigh up all the pros and cons? Ummm, not quite! We had a chat for about an hour then thought it might be a good laugh and we could always come back if we needed to. I’m not sure that is quite the way to do it but we didn’t have any children at the time so it was just us to think about. Additionally, we were really lucky in that everything went swimmingly.
Living and working in Australia
We were also incredibly lucky in that the company provided a flat for us to rent so we already had somewhere to live when we arrived. I know, you must all hate me – how painless a move is that? I’d better not mention that it was within walking distance of the city and overlooked Sydney harbor. Ssh, don’t tell anyone!
Although the language is the same, I was fooled into thinking that I would be understood. Australians contract everything – sunnies are sunglasses, ambos are ambulance/paramedics, arvo is afternoon – you get the idea. You would be surprised at what you think is a valid phrase which gets everyone rolling around laughing at you. Specifically, we got into a very confusing conversation about thongs - in the UK this is a G-string type of underwear while in Australia thongs are sandals worn on the feet. It is not recommended to confuse the two!
Having fun living in Sydney Australia
Happily, the sun is a far more frequent visitor than on British shores. So much so, that you do need to be able to deal with it properly. Always wear a hat, sunnies (!) and sun cream. Good advice particularly because the people are relaxed and friendly and you soon get drawn into groups for a couple of tinnies and a barbie. And where better to do that than at the beach or one of the many green areas that usually are all set up with permanent barbecues that anyone can use. It is just a case of getting used to there being huge distances between places. In the cities, more things are available in a smaller area but if you are in the outback many facilities are few and far between.
One thing I particularly liked is the money. Firstly, more than 85% of Australians live within 50km of the coast so the beach life is very prevalent. To help with this, the money is plastic so that you can put it in your shorts pocket, go for a swim and still be able to buy a flat white (that’s a coffee by the way) afterwards. Secondly, there is a law in Oz that says that if a bank note is ripped but is 80% or more intact, then it is still legal tender. However, if you have less than 80% (but more than 20%) you can take it into the bank and they will reimburse you depending on how much you have left. Say for example you have half of a $10 note. The bank should give you back $5. Now, how reasonable is that?
There were a few things I missed, the rich history that the UK offers and the pubs. In Australia, they aren’t cosy like some British country pubs with a real fire etc. But in the absence of freezing winter nights, that isn’t something that is often required. They don’t have a lot of pubs with beer gardens either though, so I think they are missing out a bit as the weather is much more suited for that than back in the UK. Weirdly, one of the other things I missed was the sound of the birds. I had never realized that they were so melodic in the UK. In Australia, the birds are very beautiful as you get many types of parrots and lorikeets, particularly in Sydney. The sound, however can be quite grating which is an excellent alarm clock but not very relaxing. Of course, you have to be wary of the indigenous creatures as well. Snakes and dangerous spiders aren’t as prevalent in the city as in the country although it still pays to be vigilant. And of course the sharks! Although there are shark nets in the city beaches, I was alarmed to discover they are not a complete net across the bay but a few small ones stretched out to deter the sharks rather than completely prevent them from coming in to shore. The life guards that patrol the beaches are second to none however, so if there is a sighting, a warning signal goes up and often a helicopter is deployed to find the offending animal and persuade it back out to sea. All in all, there are very few dangerous accidents caused by these animals and a recent report from the coroner’s office has shown that the most lethal animal in Australia is the horse, who would have thought it?
I loved my time there and would recommend Australia to anyone. It may be “beyond the black stump” in the “back of Bourke” but it is bonzer and well worth a burl. Translation anyone?